State Announces Temporary Cannabis Licenses

California cannabis operators in compliance with local regulations will be eligible to obtain a temporary permit in January under a new program recently unveiled by the State Bureau of Cannabis Control.

According to the Bureau, temporary license applications will be available in December 2017 and will be issued as early as January 2018. Among details not provided by the Bureau is the reasoning behind the temporary permits. It is generally understood that the motivation is to try to minimize the backlog that will likely occur when license applications are issued on or after January 1, 2018, the Bureau’s longstanding application release target date.

Here’s what is known:  The licenses will be valid for 120 days, but may be extended for additional 90-day periods at the discretion of the issuing agency if an applicant has submitted a complete non-temporary license application. Issuing a temporary approval does not obligate the state to grant a non-temporary license and an applicant may not appeal the state’s refusal to issue a temporary approval.

The Bureau’s list of required temporary license application materials is fairly short and includes the following:

  • Local jurisdiction authorization – a copy of a license, permit or other authorization issued by the local jurisdiction
  • Name
  • License type
  • Owners
  • Address of operations
  • Deed, lease or other authorization to occupy and use the property for commercial cannabis

Here’s what is not known:   It’s not clear that the temporary permits are available for all license types. An informational sheet produced by the Bureau only lists  “Distributor, Retailer, Microbusiness or Testing Laboratory.” There is also uncertainty about how local jurisdictions will interpret “other authorization,” if a cannabis operator is operating in compliance with local laws, but does not yet have a local permit.

As an example, Oakland’s cannabis permitting regulations say that “no enforcement action shall take place against a permit applicant while their application is pending,” but it is unclear what an Oakland applicant would need to show to satisfy the state requirement of local authorization.